What Is a Business Casual Policy? [The Ultimate Guide 2022]

Now that the threat of COVID-19 is over, workplaces, offices, etc. are reopening at a breathtaking pace. Even though the culture shift has occurred across many industries that have taken the fully remote route. There is no alternative to what in-office work can achieve. But even though the pandemic has not been able to close down offices permanently, it has brought in a much-needed shift in the workplaces and that is how we dress at our jobs. Earlier the dress code used to be formal business attire. But lately with the ease that working from home brought to people, more and more offices and workplaces are shifting towards a more business casual attire. And if you are unaware of what is a business casual policy and how you can implement it in your workplace, then we have got you covered. 

Let’s begin. 

Importance Of Business Attire

We all must have come across cliches such as “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, “style is the reflection of your attitude and your personality”, etc. These cliches, just like all the others exist for a reason and there is a lot of truth and weight behind them as well. A recent study by ScienceDirect has shown that clothes do influence a person’s psychological process. This phenomenon was termed Enclothed Cognition. The findings of the study pointed out the fact that the clothes one wears have both, a symbolic meaning and the physical experience of the wearer. 

Thus in any given workplace environment, employees’ performance is linked heavily with how they perceive their appearance. When a business or a company allows for more freedom in their dress code and allows the employees to wear clothes that let them express themselves more freely, the performance of the company and the employees goes up. 

This is the reason why many companies and businesses are shifting from a formal business attire environment to a business casual dress code for their employees. Gone are the days when companies were very adamant about having strict dress code policies where the business environment was to maintain strict dress codes. What began as companies and businesses experimenting with casual Fridays has transformed into a business casual dress code policy. 

What Is Business Casual Dress Code

It has been established and proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a work environment can become much more productive when the clothing does not follow a strict dress code. But the question now arises for businesses is how they define what business casual attire is. 

The truth is that there are no sample dress code policies that can be used to define business casual attire in a work environment. There is no sweeping definition of a casual dress code when compared to strict professional or formal business attire. Hence, business casual can encompass a lot of possibilities depending upon what the employees prefer, their style, genders, culture, geographical location, etc. 

Any business attire that is not formal, but is still work-appropriate business casual can be termed the new norm across industries and workplaces. offices and companies across the globe are gravitating towards a “smart casual dress code policy” for their workers. 

This new dress code is not about what one can wear, rather it focuses on what are the appropriate business casual clothes. It is important because, even though the offices are moving towards a much more relaxed dress code policy, there is a need that the employees to maintain a professional appearance and for the company to showcase its professional taste. 

Hence, business casual attire is more about the list of what not to wear, rather than what to wear. Some of the examples of these “what not to wear” could be no jeans, no short dresses or skirts for women, no open-toed shoes, or anything that makes coworkers uncomfortable. Therefore if any company is looking to come up with its sample policy, keeping these things in mind could be the right way to go. 

One more thing that the offices should keep in mind is that their employees dress comfortably yet in a business professional manner that is in line with the appropriate business it is representing. Of course, there can be outliers such as hoodies and jogger-wearing startups, but it is important to maintain the office environment professionally. 

A good rule of thumb for any company looking to set up new dress codes for its employees is to take a page out from General Motors’ change in its dress code policy in 2009. General Motors had a hefty 10-page dress code policy for its employees, which it then condensed to merely two words, “Dress Appropriately”. This policy change was ushered in by now-CEO of GM Mary Barra and she served as the global head of the human resources department. The change in the dress code at GM showcased how it trusted its employees to wear clothing that is work appropriate but also allows them the freedom to be themselves. 

What Is Business Casual Attire For Men

Now that we understand the importance of the business casual dress code and how it can be used to uplift the work environment and increase productivity across the board. It is now time to describe what can be considered business attire for men in the workplace. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of how men can dress business casual. Rather it is just an outline and based on your industry, region, style of the business owner, etc. you can decide for yourself and your organization. Moreover, taking inputs from human resources can also play a huge role as it will give you an insight into what the employees would want their dress codes to be. 

Some of the men’s clothing ideas that can be considered as a casual dress code for men are:

  • Sports jackets or casual blazers. 
  • A Collared shirt, polo shirt, or button-down shirt is a good choice as well during the summer months. 
  • During the winter dressing up in a shirt under a plain sweater or cardigan can give a professional appearance as well as keep it casual. 
  • Optional ties, belt, etc. 
  • Khakis or chinos and other casual slacks and pants. 
  • Loafers, formal dress shoes, and even high-end athletic shoes are becoming very popular among business professionals. 

These are some of the most commonly worn casual clothing items across various industries, geographical regions, etc. And as a guy, you can never go wrong with wearing a smart polo shirt paired with slacks. 

What Is Business Casual Attire For Women

Deciding a business casual dress code for men is much simpler as men’s fashion is not as extensive as it is for women. Hence, as a business owner deciding on a business casual outfit for women can be like walking a tightrope. But a large number of business owners, human resources professionals, and employees have listed out some of the most commonly worn business attire by women. 

  • Collared shirts/blouses or non-collared blouses paired with slacks, pants, or skirts. 
  • Knee-length skirts or dresses. 
  • Skirt suits
  • High heels, flats, or boots during colder months. Dress shoes and open-toed shoes are gaining popularity and acceptance as well for women’s business casual dressing. 
  • Accessories such as scarves, minimal jewelry, throws, etc. 

The dress code for women, especially business attire has a lot of scopes and can vary depending on the professional taste, industry, or location as well. The clothes can change with every season of the year and it all boils down to what suits your work environment the best. 

Can Jeans Be A Business Casual Attire

Jeans are one piece of clothing that almost every individual wears on a day-to-day basis. But the question arises can jeans be considered a part of business casual attire? The answer to this question is not a definite one. Rather it depends on the organization, the industry, and what role you are in. 

Companies and industries that have to deal with clients on a face-to-face basis daily might not accept jeans as a part of office attire. But industries that deal with tech or fintech or b2b companies might allow their employees to wear jeans paired with t-shirts as a part of their business casual clothing. But keep in mind that this is a pair of non-ripped jeans. So, depending on the various factors mentioned above, jeans can or can not be a part of your business attire. 

What Is Not A Business Casual Attire

Just like what is acceptable as casual business attire is dependent on a lot of various factors, similarly, what is unacceptable also depends on the geographical location, company, role, or industry, etc. How one can dress appropriately or inappropriately also depends on the role you have at the organization. 

Hence, if you are choosing your business attire, it is good judgement to err on the side of caution. And another good rule of thumb to follow if you’re confused about how to dress in your workplace is that it is better to be overdressed than to be underdressed. But some of the most commonly and universally unacceptable clothing for employees to wear at a company is the following. 

  • Tank tops, cold-shoulder tops, low-cut tops, etc. 
  • Ripped jeans or frayed pieces of clothing. 
  • Shorts skirts, cargo shorts, etc. 
  • Flip-flops are to be avoided at all costs. 
  • Loud, blingy, or too shiny jewelry or accessories. 
  • Clothing with bright colors that are worn as leisure wear or gym wear. 

So, if you are still confused about what good business casual attire should be, then make sure that it is not what you wear on an everyday basis. 

Final Thoughts

The workplace is evolving and so are the people and how they express themselves amongst their colleagues and peers. Workplace dressing has been shifting from having casual Fridays to becoming full-time business casual. It has also been shown scientifically that employees work better when the environment is less formal. But then there are some industries like finance and banking, where wearing professional business attire can be a sign of power and command over your craft. So, depending on your industry, role, organization, region, etc. the business casual dress code can vary. It should however be kept in mind that the business casual dress code is for the employees and not the go-to attire when you are going for a job interview. 

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